Municipalities of Germany

Last updated
Municipalities of Germany
Deutsche Gemeinden (German)
Category Municipality
Location Germany
Found in District (Kreis)
Populations11 (Gröde) - 3,600,000 (Berlin)
Administrative divisions of Germany (clickable image) Administrative divisions of Germany.svg Federal LevelFederal StatesCity States(Governmental Districts)(Rural) Districts(Collective Municipalities)Municipalities(Municipalities)Urban Districts
Administrative divisions of Germany (clickable image)

Municipalities [1] (German : Gemeinden, pronounced [ɡəˌmaɪ̯ndn̩] ; singular Gemeinde) are the lowest level of official territorial division in Germany. This can be the second, third, fourth or fifth level of territorial division, depending on the status of the municipality and the Land (federal state) it is part of. The city-states Berlin and Hamburg are second-level divisions. A Gemeinde is one level lower in those states which also include Regierungsbezirke (singular: Regierungsbezirk) as an intermediate territorial division (Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria, Hesse and North Rhine-Westphalia). The Gemeinde is one level higher if it is not part of a Gemeindeverband ("municipal association"). [1]


The highest degree of autonomy may be found in the Gemeinden which are not part of a Kreis ("district"). [1] These Gemeinden are referred to as Kreisfreie Städte or Stadtkreise , often translated as "urban district". In some states they retained a higher measure of autonomy than the other municipalities of the Kreis (e.g. Große Kreisstadt). Municipalities titled Stadt (town or city) are urban municipalities while those titled Gemeinde are classified as rural municipalities.

With more than 3,600,000 inhabitants, the most populous municipality of Germany is the city of Berlin; and the least populous is Gröde in Schleswig-Holstein.

Municipalities per federal state

Status as of January 2024.

Federal stateMunicipalities [2] Municipalities with town status [2] Municipalities that are urban districts [2] Average no. of inhabitants [2] [3] Average area (km2) [2] Lists (Cities, Towns,
Baden-Württemberg 1,101313910,01232.5 C, T, M
Bavaria 2,056317256,32134.3 C, T, M
Berlin 1113,613,000891.0 Berlin
Brandenburg 41311346,00571.1 C, T, M
Bremen 222340,500209.5 Bremen, Bremerhaven
Hamburg 1111,831,000755.2 Hamburg
Hesse 422191514,75949.9 C, T, M
Lower Saxony 93915988,42650.5 C, T, M
Mecklenburg-Vorpommern 7258422,14831.1 C, T, M
North Rhine-Westphalia 3962712245,23286.1 C, T, M
Rhineland-Palatinate 2,301129121,7688.6 C, T, M
Saarland 5217019,11549.4 C, T, M
Saxony 41816939,69443.8 C, T, M
Saxony-Anhalt 218104310,19793.8 C, T, M
Schleswig-Holstein 1,1046342,61314.3 C, T, M
Thuringia 60511753,51526,7 C, T, M
Germany 10,7532,0561067,51732.5 C, T, M

Municipal reforms

The number of municipalities of Germany has decreased strongly over the years: in 1968 there were 24,282 municipalities in West Germany, and in 1980 there were 8,409. [4] The same trend occurred in the New states of Germany after the German reunification: from 7,612 municipalities in 1990 [5] to 2,380 as of 1 January 2024. [2] While in some cases growing cities absorbed neighbouring municipalities, most of these mergers were driven by a need to increase the efficiency and reduce costs of administration. [4] At the same time, many districts and also urban districts were merged into larger districts.

Types of municipalities

There are several types of municipalities in Germany, with different levels of autonomy. Each federal state has its own administrative laws, and its own local government structure. The main types of municipalities are:

Local elections

In all municipalities, the mayor and the members of the municipal council are appointed by local elections that take place on a regular basis. Elections for the municipal councils (Kommunalwahlen) take place every 4 years in Bremen, every 6 years in Bavaria and every 5 years in all other states. [6]

The office of mayor is full-time (hauptamtlich) in larger municipalities, and voluntary (ehrenamtlich) in smaller municipalities, for instance those that are part of a municipal association. Mayors are elected for a specific term, which is different in every state. Since mayoral elections also have to be held when a mayor resigns from office, these do not take place at the same time for all municipalities in a state. The terms for mayors are: [7]

See also

Related Research Articles

Amt is a type of administrative division governing a group of municipalities, today only in Germany, but formerly also common in other countries of Northern Europe. Its size and functions differ by country and the term is roughly equivalent to a British or U.S. county.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">States of Germany</span> First-level administrative subdivisions of the Federal Republic of Germany

The Federal Republic of Germany, as a federal state, consists of sixteen states. Berlin, Hamburg and Bremen are called Stadtstaaten ("city-states"), while the other thirteen states are called Flächenländer and include Bavaria, Saxony, and Thuringia, which describe themselves as Freistaaten.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Districts of Germany</span> Part of the geopolitical division of Germany

In 13 German states, the primary administrative subdivision higher than a Gemeinde (municipality) is the Landkreis or Kreis. Most major cities in Germany are not part of any Kreis, but instead combine the functions of a municipality and a Kreis; such a city is referred to as a kreisfreie Stadt or Stadtkreis.

The Official Municipality Key, formerly also known as the Official Municipality Characteristic Number or Municipality Code Number, is a number sequence for the identification of politically independent municipalities or unincorporated areas. Other classifications for the identification of areas include postal codes, NUTS codes or FIPS codes.

Elections in Germany include elections to the Bundestag, the Landtags of the various states, and local elections.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">DB Regio</span> Subsidiary of Deutsche Bahn AG

DB Regio AG is a subsidiary of Deutsche Bahn which operates regional and commuter train services in Germany. DB Regio AG, headquartered in Frankfurt am Main. It is a 100% subsidiary of the Deutsche Bahn Group and there part of the DB Regio business segment, which also includes DB Regionnetz Verkehrs GmbH and other independent subsidiaries.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Große Kreisstadt</span>

Große Kreisstadt is a term in the municipal law (Gemeindeordnung) of several German states. In some federal states the term is used as a special legal status for a district-affiliated town—as distinct from an independent city—with additional competences in comparison with other municipalities of the district. The title is based on sovereign conferment by the state government.

The German football league system, or league pyramid, refers to the hierarchically interconnected league system for association football in Germany that in the 2016–17 season consisted of 2,235 leagues in up to 13 levels having 31,645 teams, in which all divisions are bound together by the principle of promotion and relegation. The top three professional levels contain one division each. Below this, the semi-professional and amateur levels have progressively more parallel divisions, which each cover progressively smaller geographic areas. Teams that finish at the top of their division at the end of each season can rise higher in the pyramid, while those that finish at the bottom find themselves sinking further down. Therefore, in theory, it is possible for even the lowest local amateur club to rise to the top of the system and become German football champions one day. The number of teams promoted and relegated between the divisions varies, and promotion to the upper levels of the pyramid is usually contingent on meeting additional criteria, especially concerning appropriate facilities and finances.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Neidlingen</span> German municipality

Neidlingen is a municipality in the district of Esslingen, in Baden-Württemberg, Germany.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Neustadt am Main</span> Municipality in Bavaria, Germany

Neustadt am Main is a community in the Main-Spessart district in the Regierungsbezirk of Lower Franconia (Unterfranken) in Bavaria, Germany and a member of the Verwaltungsgemeinschaft Lohr am Main.

The Landesliga is a tier of football in some states of the German football league system.

Municipal associations are statutory corporations or public bodies created by statute in the German federal states of Bavaria, Saxony, Thuringia, and Schleswig-Holstein. In Baden-Württemberg the term stipulated municipal association is used.

<i>Naturschutzgebiet</i> Category of protected area within Germanys Federal Nature Conservation Act

A Naturschutzgebiet is a category of protected area within Germany's Federal Nature Conservation Act . Although often translated as 'Nature Reserve' in English, the Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN) refers to them as 'Nature Conservation Areas'. It meets the criteria of an IUCN Category IV Habitat and Species Management Area.

<i>Gemeindeverband</i> Union of at least two municipalities in Germany to exercise the powers of self-government

Gemeindeverband is a union of at least two municipalities in Germany to form a Körperschaft des öffentlichen Rechts with the purpose to exercise the powers of self-government at a larger scale, while maintaining autonomy of its members.

The Minister-president is the head of state and government in thirteen of Germany's sixteen states.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Lists of German municipal flags</span>

The list of German municipal flags lists the flags of municipalities of Germany. Most municipalities of Germany have unique flags. Like state flags, most of them are with either a bicolor or tricolor stipes with or without the emblem ("wappen"). Therefore, the list will also discuss the emblems. Please note that some of the flags listed are de facto flags.

The Sparkassen-Finanzgruppe is a network of public banks that together form the largest financial services group in Germany and in all of Europe. Its name refers to local government-controlled savings banks that are known in German as Sparkasse, plural Sparkassen. Its activity is overwhelmingly located in Germany.


  1. 1 2 3 4 Country Compendium. A companion to the English Style Guide, European Commission, May 2021, pages 58–59.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 "Statistisches Jahrbuch 2019" (PDF). Statistisches Bundesamt. p. 29. Retrieved 8 July 2021.
  3. Populations as of December 31, 2017
  4. 1 2 Guth, D.; Scheer, J. (November 2010). "Kommunale Gebietsreformem und Vergleichbarkeit von Gemeindestrukturdaten" (PDF). Raum und Mobilität - Arbeitspapiere des Fachgebiets Verkehrswesen und Verkehrsplanung. TU Dortmund. 20.
  5. "Gebietsreformen – politische Entscheidungen und Folgen für die Statistik" (PDF). BBSR-Berichte KOMPAKT. Bundesinstitut für Bau-, Stadt- und Raumforschung. 6. July 2010.
  6. Übersicht über die Wahlsysteme bei Kommunalwahlen, accessed 12 July 2021.
  7. Kost, A.; Wehling, H.-G. (2010). Kost, Andreas; Wehling, Hans-Georg (eds.). Kommunalpolitik in den deutschen Ländern: Eine Einführung (in German). Springer-Verlag. doi:10.1007/978-3-531-92034-4. ISBN   978-3-531-17007-7.